“The church is plan A…there is no plan B”. We fully believe that statement. That is why when it comes to making disciples that can make disciples, UK-USA Ministries begins with relationships within the local church. All of our team members are placed in a local church to serve as a Volunteer Youth Worker within the student ministry. Many times that is beside a local Youth Pastor, while other times helping to shape the youth work. Through our partnership with Tees Valley Youth for Christ, team members undergo training upon arrival to the country and receive regular training throughout the year to better each volunteer youth worker’s ability to make disciples in the local church.
It’s incredibly difficult to reach students if we don’t go where they are. Because of this truth, we see the great value in serving the community by being present in local schools to build relationships. Our team members who are placed in churches that have made good relationships with schools may have the chance to lead in secondary schools around Teesside and North Yorkshire. Each person uses their strengths in school – from sports to mathematics or from dance to religious education. Some Volunteer Youth Workers have also had the brilliant opportunity to speak in school assemblies where they have presented the Gospel to an entire school! This invaluable time provides us with numerous opportunities for Gospel centered relationships to blossom and flourish.
Sports are an amazing point of connection with young people. Our primary vehicle of sports outreach is called Camp of Champions which are run during the summer months. At each camp, kids play a variety of sports and hear a Bible story along with a personal testimony about the ultimate champion, Jesus!
The ministry of UK-USA Ministries and Tees Valley Youth for Christ stretches across the Tees Valley and North Yorkshire – two very different places. But one thing remains true…students need a place to feel known and loved. Through partnerships with local churches, our team members have started after school clubs that give many kids a safe place to do homework, have some fun and most importantly, see the Gospel lived out in the life of a Volunteer Youth Worker.
A verse that has significantly shaped our approach to ministry is Matthew 20:28, which says, “The Son of Man came not to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” There is great need, both physical and spiritual, across Teesside and North Yorkshire. By attempting to help meet these needs, we hope to show others how much they are loved and valued by the God who was willing to lay His life down to become a servant. As we seek to respond to each community’s specific needs, how we go about doing can look very different. The goal is the same no matter what the need may be. Servant evangelism is done by our team members and by teams visiting from the United States.
In UK public schools, religious education (RE) is a mandatory subject taken by all students. This provides opportunities for youth workers and ministers to go in to their local schools to contribute to teaching the RE curriculum by presenting a Christian perspective on a range of topics. During these assemblies and lessons, young people get to hear aspects of the Christian message as part of their school day. Many of our workers also lead lunch time or after school clubs that combine Christian teaching with games, crafts, and other activities.
While the opportunity to speak about Christ with young people in school is incredible, we believe that relationships are also key to seeing young people come to know Jesus. Going in to schools creates opportunities to build relationships with young people in their own environment, and for this reason we aim to seek out every opportunity possible to interact with students during the school day. Many of our workers regularly volunteer to help with additional subjects like music, drama, or PE. They also lead mentoring sessions, school-based community service projects, and sports clubs.
Every time we walk through the doors of a school, we have an incredible chance to show young people and school staff what Jesus looks like through how we treat them in the small, everyday encounters. We are constantly praying that occasions to invite them to events like Café Church or a youth club will come up, so that we can build on the foundations that are being built in school.
Sports are an amazing point of connection with young people; as the UK shares a particular love of football (soccer), we are utilising sports coaching and camps to reach out in our communities. AXIOM sports is our dedicated team of athletes who coach in local schools, community centres, and parks. They are able to take opportunities to teach young people about being excellent athletes and turn them into chances to share the gospel with them as well.
One project that we have seen huge success with is Camp of Champions. Through the UK-USA partnership a number of US short-term mission teams have served with Tees Valley Youth for Christ and local churches in Teesside to engage children and young people in our local parks. When a child arrives at Camp of Champions, they join a team and spend the week competing with them in different sports and games. There is also a Bible story shared each day, where young people get to hear about the ultimate champion, Jesus! We have hundreds of kids and young people attend Camp of Champions each year. Our deep desire is to see those attending come to faith in Jesus Christ and see them connected to the local church.
Another way that we are focusing on meeting people where they are is by being a part of and serving in local communities. A verse that has significantly shaped our approach to ministry is Matthew 20:28, which says, “The Son of Man came not to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” There is great need, both physical and spiritual, across Teesside; by attempting to help meet these needs we hope to show others how much they are loved and valued by the God who was willing to lay his life down to become a servant.
As we seek to respond to each community’s specific needs, how we go about doing this looks different, but could include things like: picking up trash in the park, running homework clubs for children after school, supplying volunteers to programs that provide children with a hot meal during school breaks, and running youth clubs so that young people have a safe space to come in off the streets in the evenings.
We see schools work, sports coaching, and servant evangelism as ministry tools; the primary focus of UK-USA Ministries and our partner Tees Valley Youth for Christ is to build intentional relationships for the gospel. In the context of those relationships we want to share Christ effectively ‘as we go’, and we desire to see the Lord initiate new works so we can join Him where He is actively moving across The Tees Valley.